Several days ago, I asked Tyson to read something. Before I showed him what it was, I told him that I wanted to know what his thoughts were on it and that I wasn’t trying to “tell him something” by having him read it. Because I was driving and he was the passenger with no means of escape, and because he loves me, he agreed to read “it”.
“It” was the comic You Should’ve Asked by a French cartoonist named Emma. The comic centers around the idea that women typically take on the mental load of a household, meaning they manage the household as far as making sure appointments get scheduled, the house is clean, laundry gets done, food is in the fridge, etc.
After he read it, his first response was that it was hard for him to believe that I wasn’t trying to tell him something. I expected that and told him that I honestly just wanted to know his reaction and his thoughts to the comic. I explained to him that I had read the comic months ago and knew what my thoughts were, but I really wanted to know what he thought about it. I wanted to hear the other side of the story.
What followed was a great conversation. Did we agree on everything? No. Did we each get a chance to share our thoughts? Yes. Did we listen to one another? Yes. Was I lying when I told him that I wasn’t trying to tell him something by having him read the comic? A little. Our little family takes a lot to manage and I was hoping the comic might give him a glimpse of what it’s like inside my brain when it comes to our household.
Did the conversation end with us making a list of everything that needs to be done on a day-to-day, week-to-week, or month-to-month basis for our family and then splitting it in half? No. It did end, however, with us each having a better understanding of what we both bring to the table to ensure our family is taken care of.
It also ended me telling him how grateful I am that I have a husband that I can have this kind of conversation with. That I have a husband that loves and respects me enough to listen when I bring up things that could easily lead to an argument if he wasn’t willing to listen and respect my point of view (whether he agreed with it or not). And I am also extremely grateful that I have a husband who does do a lot to help out around the house. Did I mention that he does his own laundry??
One of the things that I didn’t like about the comic is how it portrays the man as an oblivious schmuck that expects the woman to do the woman’s work while he has a drink. While I do know that there are men out there that are exactly like that, Tyson is not. I know that there are a lot of men out there that are very involved and play an active role in their family. Does Tyson always do exactly what I would like for him to do and exactly how I would like for him to do it? No. But I choose to focus on the fact that he does a lot for me and our kids instead of how he didn’t load the dishwasher right. I think that there’s a lot of danger that lies in not recognizing and appreciating what your partner does do and instead focusing on what he or she is not doing.
Then yesterday something magical happened. As I was getting Moses ready for bed, Tyson came to the doorway and said something. I thought he said, “I’ll take him” and I responded with, “I’m fine. I’m almost finished.” He responded with, “I said I’m going to take something off your mental load. From now on, I’m going to take care of Moses’ laundry. I’ll do mine and his, so you just have to worry about yours and Josie’s.”
And that, people, is real-life love and respect in a real-life partnership. It’s amazing what can happen when two people share their thoughts and really listen to one another. In this case, the mental load, and the laundry loads, got shared.